A dancer from Watford is set to become only the second British girl to study at a prestigious ballet school in Russia.
When Natalie Carter, 16, collects her GCSE results on Thursday, she will not be choosing which A-Levels to study at Watford Grammar School for Girls.
Instead, she will say goodbye to her family and friends and fly to Moscow, to join the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
After impressing a “talent scout” during a performance with the Gypsy Booth College and School of Theatre Arts at Easter, she was offered a place at the school.
The teenager had already been accepted to the Central School of Ballet when she was offered at place at the Bolshoi.
And following her arrival in Moscow, on August 30, she will face intensive Russian lessons and ballet classes to bring her up to the school's extremely high standards.
Natalie said: “It was a bit of a shock to find I had to move to Russia, rather than London.
“I'm really excited about going. I was dead nervous but it's going to be such a good opportunity.”
Natalie, from Belgrave Avenue, started dancing with the Gypsy Booth School when she was seven and two years later progressed to ballet.
She was encouraged to apply for the Bolshoi after impressing Svetlana Adyrkhaeva, a former principal dancer for the Bolshoi, during a visit in September last year.
And though her friends will be studying their A-Levels, Natalie is looking forward to leaving school work behind.
“Over the past few years I've really enjoyed dance as a sport more than a hobby,” she said. “I enjoy the sport more than sitting behind a desk doing written work.”
Natalie's mother Sue sent out more than 1,500 letters requesting sponsorship from charities and foundations, and their donations have allowed her daughter to take up her place in Moscow.
Sue said: “I am obviously very proud of both my girls, but felt totally and utterly sick at the prospect of one of my baby girls going to study so young so far away. It is an opportunity of a
lifetime that very few have been invited to do.”
Dad Phil added: “With us it's nervous excitement because she's going away at such a young age but it's a hell of an opportunity and her whole family are extremely proud.”
The Gypsy Booth School was established in Watford 44 years ago and is based at The Centre in South Oxhey.
Gypsy Booth, principal of the dance school where Natalie has received all her training, said: “It's quite an achievement. It's one of the most important schools in the world. Most people who get in
are from full-time dance schools.
“Not only is she an extremely talented dancer, she's extremely dedicated.”
Gypsy's daughter, Tamara Vile, and Russian dancer Olga Semeinova have been Natalie's principal teachers, and Tamara said she was “very proud” of her pupil.
She said: “She's proof that dancers don't need to go to dance schools full-time when they are just ten, and they can have a normal education until they are 16.”